Christmas should be fun, right? Then why did God start the Christmas story with a genealogy? Matthew 1:1-17 is a long list of names telling us the names of Jesus’ father, grandfather, great-grandfather, great great-grandfather, great great great-grandfather, and so on. It starts with Matthew 1:1
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
And ends with vs. 17,
So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
That’s a lot of generations and a lot of names. And most of us agree, its no fun reading someone else’s family tree.
The question is, what makes this family tree so important? Why are we asked to suffer through reading such a long lineage? There are probably several answers, but one seems to be the most obvious. God wants us to know that Jesus isn’t the beginning of the story, he is the climax of a much longer story.
When we read the Christmas story this month, it is important to remember that we have skipped to the end of the book. It would be like picking up Lord of the Rings, but starting when Frodo finally gets to Mordor to throw the ring into the fires of Mount Doom. Without having read the first two books, this third climactic book lacks the depth of context and characters that makes it so compelling. The Bible is the same way. It is the Old Testament that adds the depth and context to Jesus’ miraculous birth, life, death, and resurrection. We cannot rightly understand the climax without understanding how it fits into the whole story.
If you don’t have time to read the entire Bible before Christmas day, I suggest this poem as a good temporary substitute. Matt Papa delivers a dramatic reading of a poem summarizing the entire story of God in about ten minutes. It will help us all remember the context that leads up to the birth of Jesus and then remind us of the significance that Jesus life and death continues to have for us today.
If you have a little more time and you have kids (you are probably thinking that is an oxymoron), I suggest picking up the Big Picture Story Bible. It is one of the best, succinct presentations of the whole story of the Bible. Your kids will learn from it and you will too.